- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 7, 2015

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan’s push to repeal the state’s “rain tax” was blocked Friday by a House committee, dealing the Republican governor his first legislative defeat at the hands of Democrat-run General Assembly.

In a party-line vote, the House Environment and Transportation Committee rejected Mr. Hogan’s bill to end the so-called rain tax, which is imposed on property owners in the largest counties for impervious surfaces, such as driveways and rooftops, to raise money to clean up the Chesapeake Bay.

Mr. Hogan and the General Assembly’s Democratic leaders had pledged to work together, but the bipartisanship stopped at the edge of the rain tax.

The bill died with the committee’s 14 Democrats voting against it and the 7 Republicans voting in favor.

Mr. Hogan vowed not to give up the fight.

“No issue resonates as strongly and no tax is as universally detested as the rain tax. Passing a law that forces only a handful of counties to raise taxes on their citizens – against their will – is wrong, unfair, and it needs to end,” Mr. Hogan said in a statement.

“Marylanders have spoken loudly and clearly on this issue,” he said. “The overwhelming majority of voters across the state are strongly opposed to it, and some counties have already taken steps to repeal this burdensome tax.

Considering the surge of opposition to the current law, I am confident that the General Assembly will still move forward with a repeal of the Rain Tax.”

Mr. Hogan, who won an upset victory last year to become the second GOP governor in deep-blue Maryland since 1969, had made rolling back the state’s tax burden the cornerstone of this campaign.

The rain tax was among the most unpopular taxes imposed by Mr. Hogan’s predecessor, former Gov. Martin O’Malley, a Democrat who is eyeing a 2016 presidential run.

Democrats and environmentalist opposed repeal, warning that it would undermine efforts to cleanup runoff that pollutes the Chesapeake Bay.

Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., Prince George’s County Democrat, last week introduced an alternative bill that would stop short of repealing the tax but make collecting it optional for counties.

• S.A. Miller can be reached at smiller@washingtontimes.com.

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